Beginning to flip learning

I am SO lucky! I’m at a Distance Education school where, flipped learning is pretty much the norm. However, until recently students have been asked to read long amounts of text in science.


This is no more as far as I’m concerned.

Yesterday, the day that changed my educational future, I discovered an invaluable web tool called Video Scribe. And began making awesome looking videos instantly.


Taking advice from the greats of video lessons I made sure that it was:

  • less than 5 minutes long
  • catchy and relevant to my students
  • animated!
  • focused on lower order thinking skills (knowledge and understanding).

Enjoy the first video I produced and I will be making all my video lessons available on my website under “For Teachers“.


Stuck what to say about the Draft Earth and Environmental Science Syllabus for NSW? – here are my views

If you care about the future of English, science, mathematics or history education in NSW, you’ll make your views heard. Here is where you can do that before August 31.

Read more for selected comments I made on the Draft HSC Earth Syllabus for NSW. *Caution, emotive language used.

Continue reading

BOSTES tips on assessment tasks

Notes I took at the Riverina Science Leadership conference regarding HSC assessment tasks as presented by the BOSTES Assessment guru

  • Students cannot get N-awarded from a course for simply not attending. As a teacher, you need to demonstrate that by not attending classes, the student is not meeting course outcomes. If they are self-sufficiently studying and submitting assessment tasks then they are meeting course requirements.
  • When a student requires an estimate as they have been unable to complete an assessment task, it is not valid to give an estimate based on other assessments that demonstrate different skills.
  • If you know a students needs a provision, you must give it as soon as you know. This may be before it gets approved by BOSTES
  • When considering modifications,think about what it is you are trying to assess and then what provisions need to be provided in order for that student to achieve the same outcome. For example, if a student was colour blind, and finding out when a colour change was occuring was essential to the assessment, you could tell them when the colour change happened, by saying now the colour has changed. Or by providing appropriate labels.
  • When planning an assessment task, think about what it is you are trying to assess and consider if you could do this in a different way.
  • Whatever you do in terms of modification, you cannot change the rigour of the task. You can’t “make it easier”. That’s not the point of modification/ reasonable adjustments.

Top HSC Exam tips from Dr. Stephen Fogwill at UTS

These are Dr. Fogwill’s top tips. He’s been an advisor to writing HSC Physics papers as well as a senior marker for many years.

Plus an all round lovely guy, willing to share his expertise with people.

  • all science students are expected to know what the gradient of a line means
  • students tended to draw trend lines incorrectly
  • students need to be prepared to answer questions on all parts of the syllabus, including the contextual outlines
  • the big mark questions are the ones that make the most difference, students need to practice how to do them
  • exam strategy: first look through and find pictures, then read through 7 mark questions, then read through the options. Finally go back and answer the multiple choice questions. It’s good to have a strategy
  • draw diagrams where possible
  • check the batteries of your calculators
  • where the paper says “do not write”, definitely do not write in that section – it will not be marked
  • in Physics and Earth, students should use the formula sheet and data sheet as a summary. Prepare your notes around it so that when you look at it in the exam it actually has more meaning because you’ve associated various sections of the course with the data provided to you
  • when considering safety in a scientific investigation make sure you look at safety specific to that investigation rather than simply wear safety glasses and have covered shoes
  • for each mandatory prac students should be able to do “VARS” which is validity, accuracy, reliability and safety as well as being able to describe the prac and general trends that were observed
  • teachers job to train students to do really good brief summary notes
  • when finished writing an answer go back and check that you’ve answered each part of the question
  • his website is



Its STEM not STEAM. Here’s why.



The reason STEM is such a big focus/ push/ buzz word right now, is not because other areas of education are less important. It has nothing to do with that.
It has everything to do with the fact that future generations have to deal with huge, global problems, that they need STEM skills to do.
As an aside, here they are* :
– Antibiotic resistance
– Climate change
– New energy sources
– Over pollution of the world
– Draughts and limited fresh water
– Over population
Instead, STEM has to do with the fact that students doing engineering courses at university are declining. These are our real world problem solvers and we are producing less of them. This may worry you. Rightly so.
STEM doesn’t mean arts and creativity is not important. On the contrary, any scientist or engineer knows that innovation requires creativity. It does mean however, that we are not talking about literary creativity here, or creativity in the arts. There are different kinds of creativity. In STEM we ask students to solve a problem. There is an absolute need for what they are to construct.
If we start using STEAM. Then why not add languages to it too? We know that speaking two languages changes the brain to be able to better adapt to problem solving and increases working memory. It also decreased problems in later life. Not to mention bilinguals have excellent cultural awareness. So we should then make it STLEAM.
Wait a second? Are we forgetting health? We cannot forget health because without proper sleep, food, exercise and mental wellbeing, we cannot call ourselves healthy human beings.
So it now has to become STLEAMP.

Can you see that it is getting a bit out of hand?
Let’s just agree that right now, there is a need for STEM students.
But we as teachers are educating the child as a whole. And we are not discounting the importance of other areas of education.

* Thank you for indulging my inbuilt scientific need to write lists

What makes a good teacher?

From my observations + research

  • having routines
  • being firm and able to control a classroom
  • joking with students/ having a sense of humour
  • knowing what’s going on in the class
  • caring about the education of students
  • not embarrassing students in front of peers
  • having clear expectations of behaviour
  • being clear with your instructions
  • being a story teller + making it relevant
  • builds on knowledge obtained previously